President Joe Biden has issued a stern warning to his staff following a tumultuous four years under the leadership of his predecessor Donald Trump.
Just hours after his peaceful inauguration on Wednesday (local time), Biden held a virtual White House ceremony to swear in nearly 1000 federal appointees and staff, during which he emphasised public service and respect.
New staffers can be seen watching via video chat in anticipation of receiving the oath of office.
However, the new president warned the incoming group that he will not put up with any form of bullying.
“If you're ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot,” he said.
“On the spot. No ifs or buts.
“Everybody is entitled to be treated to decency and dignity.
“That's been missing in a big way the last four years.”
Biden press secretary vows to ‘bring back truth’
The president’s press secretary held her first news conference on Wednesday (local time), seven hours after the inauguration, vowing to bring truth and transparency back to government.
Jen Psaki, who served as the chief spokeswoman at the State Department under former President Barack Obama, told White House reporters she had a “deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy”.
Marking a contrast to former President Donald Trump and his top aides’ treatment of what they called “the fake news media”, Psaki pledged to partake in professional, civil exchanges.
“There will be moments when we disagree, and there will certainly be days where we disagree for extensive parts of the briefing even, perhaps,” she said.
“But we have a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people.”
Biden plans to “bring transparency and truth back to the government to share the truth, even when it’s hard to hear,” she said.
Psaki said she expected to hold daily briefings at the White House on weekdays, and to make available health officials to explain efforts to get the Covid-19 pandemic under control.
Under Trump, the White House banned news organisations it viewed as too critical from briefings and moved to off-camera “gaggles” instead of daily televised news briefings.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.